Original Article


, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 539-550

First online:

Ethical robots: the future can heed us

  • Selmer BringsjordAffiliated withDepartment of Cognitive Science, Department of Computer Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Rensselaer AI and Reasoning (RAIR) Lab Email author 

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Bill Joy’s deep pessimism is now famous. “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” his defense of that pessimism, has been read by, it seems, everyone—and many of these readers, apparently, have been converted to the dark side, or rather more accurately, to the future-is-dark side. Fortunately (for us; unfortunately for Joy), the defense, at least the part of it that pertains to AI and robotics, fails. Ours may be a dark future, but we cannot know that on the basis of Joy’s reasoning. On the other hand, we ought to fear a good deal more than fear itself: we ought to fear not robots, but what some of us may do with robots.